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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Dear Friends...

During the recent Council work study session on the Desert EDGE project, I summarized the history of events that has led to locating a Discovery Center in the preserve, at the Gateway on Thompson Peak Parkway. A few listeners asked me to share that chronology. It's a long history, so hold your seats!

In 1994 - before there was a preserve tax or a preserve! - the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission (MSPC) retained a local research firm, Nelson, Robb, Duval and DeMenna to conduct a statistically reliable telephone survey of Scottsdale registered voters to determine whether they supported land preservation.

The poll questions made it clear the City's goals were broader than just acquiring land. Each poll participant was also told, "The following are a list of features that are under study for inclusion in the preserve" and asked to rank the importance of each feature. For "Desert museums and education centers", 69.5% answered "very important" or "somewhat important;" 30.5% answered "not very important" or "don't know."

The poll results guided City Council in structuring the May 23, 1995 Ballot Proposition 400 seeking voter approval of a 0.20% temporary and dedicated preserve sales tax. That proposition was approved almost 2 to 1.

Following the 1995, the MSPC began studying where preserve assets should be built to enhance public entry to and enjoyment of the preserve. By March 1999, they had published their McDowell Sonoran Preserve Access Areas Report identifying several access points.

There should be a single Gateway, they said, as the focal point for educational facilities as well as a a broad array of public amenities - a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate large user groups. Many of those visions of 20 years ago survive today as features of the proposed Desert EDGE at the Gateway.

About this same time, 1998, homes were being constructed on Bell Road in the McDowell Mountain Ranch community, across from the southern boundary of the proposed Gateway.

In 2004, voters were asked to increase the preserve tax again (this time by 0.15%) and allow the revenues to be used for land "...and improvements thereto."

That vote prompted Council to begin defining potential improvements. City Council's first action was to authorize a "Municipal Use Master Site Plan" (MUMSP, for short) for the Gateway - the city equivalent of a developer's site plan.

In February 2006, staff held an open house to explain Council's future plans for the Gateway. Staff shared a site plan map identifying Phase I as the Gateway Access and Phase II as a Desert Discovery Center, including an interpretive center, support offices, café with outdoor dining terrace and a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater.

On September 18, 2007, based on the 2006 public outreach, Council approved the MUMSP for the Gateway with the site plan unchanged. The accompanying Council Report described a Desert Discovery Center "...that will serve as the primary educational facility [including] a small café in conjunction with the Center...[as well as]...an outdoor amphitheater as part of the Desert Discovery Center...used in conjunction with educational and support activities for the Center." The description even anticipated "...there will be limited evening activity at the Desert Discovery Center." Mayor Mary Manross and Councilmembers Betty Drake, Wayne Ecton, Jim Lane, Bob Littlefield and Ron McCullagh all voted for the Gateway site plan.

Starting in 2007, homes began to be constructed on the west side of Thompson Peak Parkway, across from the proposed Gateway and Desert Discovery Center.

On October 11, 2011, Council approved the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Areas Report. The 1999 Report had been updated in 2010, but still provided there would only be one Gateway and that its location would be the focal point for educational facilities and programs and include a broad array of public amenities such as a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate corporate picnics and other large user groups. The Report was adopted unanimously by Mayor Jim Lane and councilmembers Milhaven, Borowsky, Klapp, Bob Littlefield, McCullagh and Robbins.

Before and after 2011, several versions of a Discovery Center were developed, leading to a Council decision in early 2016 to contract for a definitive study of what a Discovery Center should be. For more than twenty years, Scottsdale's elected and appointed representatives had been guided by the wishes of Scottsdale citizens; respecting this history, Council stipulated the design be sited at the already approved site north of the Gateway trailhead.

Still, the contractor, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale (DDCS), was given latitude to consider alternative sites. They could have recommended another site - at the Gateway, elsewhere in the preserve or out of the preserve altogether - provided an alternative showed promise as a superior location, insuring greater success for the Discovery Center. In fact, an alternative, superior site was identified, just south of the Gateway trailhead. That is the site council is now considering for the Desert EDGE.

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PHOENIX – A brand new tool for monitoring the number of Arizona voters in real-time has been released by Secretary of State Michele Reagan.  The Voter Stats Dashboard displays registration data allowing users to observe trends by party and county from 2007 to the most recent report.

The innovative tool aggregates statistical and demographic data of Arizona’s registered voters by county and forecasts future registration levels of partisan affiliation.  The forecast is made to January 2021 and the time series is adjusted to consider yearly seasonality effects.

“No longer do people have to wait for each quarterly report to better understand the number of voters in Arizona,” said Secretary Reagan.  “The number of active voters changes each day with people registering, moving or when our counties perform routine list maintenance.  With this innovative dashboard people can better see what’s happening with the state’s electorate each day.”

The party forecasting function uses a basic time series algorithm called ARIMA.  Widely available to the public, it is a moving average from quarter to quarter.  Seasonality is a way for the algorithm to take into account patterns that may be found in the data based on outside events. In this case, the forecast takes into account the quarters of an election year which historically see an increase in registrations.

The Voter Stats Dashboard was developed by the Secretary of State’s Election Information Systems team and is hosted on her dedicated elections portal www.Arizona.Vote.

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By Steve Farley for Governor

When we think of the labor movement in Arizona, we are reminded of notable pieces of our past and present.

From the Old Dominion miners in Globe who striked against wage decreases in 1896, to the ironworkers who helped build skyscrapers like Chase Tower in Phoenix – unions have always played a role in everyday life here in Arizona.

We think of AFSCME members who ensure our cities and towns like Peoria operate effectively, and teachers unions like AFT and the NEA who make sure our children have the best possible future.

These men and women from across the state work hard every single day to make sure Arizona is the best state in the nation --– and it is their unions that fight tooth and nail to protect them every step of the way.

Each of us benefits from the labor movement’s accomplishments, whether you are a union member or not.

Weekends, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety -- we sometimes take the work of labor unions for granted.

These benefits were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our union Brothers and Sisters that fought in Arizona and in states across the country to protect the American worker.

That’s why on this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to not only thank unions around Arizona for their hard work in the past, but also tell them that I stand with them and their future fights for Arizona’s workers’ rights.

To the men and women of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Union Local 75, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 104, UA Local 469, Carpenters Local 1912, IBEW Local 640, SMART 1081, and the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and every union across the state:

Thank you for all your hard work and know that I stand with you. Arizona is what it is because of you.

Keep it up,

Steve

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From No DDC

FINAL SURVEY RESULTS -- THANK YOU, SCOTTSDALE. 9,000 of you saw it including 4,000 who saw the Survey on NoDDC and 5,000 who saw the promoted ad. We promoted the survey to all 140,000 Facebook users in Scottsdale to try to get an unbiased and representative sample of voters.

Of those who opened the Survey over 84% completed at least the first 3 answers.

WHAT WE LEARNED: 5.86% want the DDC built on the Gateway Trailhead. That is it. Even after we goaded the DDCSI crowd in to trying to stuff the ballot box they could not get up to 6%.

62% do not want the DDC built on the Preserve under any circumstances. No matter how small and no matter whether voters approve it or not, they say they oppose all versions of the DDC. That answer was nearly 3 times more prevalent than any other answer.

Especially in South Scottsdale, where voters were not so concerned about preservation as they are about Taxes and Budgets. South Scottsdale is an overwhelming NoDDC Voting bloc that does not want an election because as one voter put it "why waste more money on an election when everyone knows we hate it". 78% of South Scottsdale simply said "No. Not under any circumstances". 16% said they would tolerate it if it was moved or there was an election and 5.9% said they approved.

We do not know how you could possibly change these trends. DDCSI just made its best pitch to impress the City and if anything it seems that voters became even more opposed after the big rollout of the relabled Edge project 2 weeks ago.

CHALLENGE TO DDCSI: You will refuse to accept the results of this Survey and insist that it was contrived. It was not. But you deflect all criticism. So why do we not do the next survey together and jointly manage the data? We are confident where this debate is going.

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By Scottsdale Councilmember Virginia Korte

Last week we took the first significant step in solving our city’s infrastructure issues.virginiakorte_bio

Mayor Lane appointed me and Councilmembers Guy Phillips and David Smith to a new Council Capital Improvement Project Subcommittee.  The three us will be officially confirmed at the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21st.

Recently, the city staff presented more than 40 capital improvement projects for the Council’s consideration.  The total cost of the projects is estimated to be $84 million. That is a lot of money, and, quite candidly, it is going to be a challenge finding the funding for those projects.  And this is the “tip” of the proverbial iceberg with our growing needs for reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure. It will take a combination of several different options to pay for all the projects over time. 

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By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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The people of Arizona face a critical decision this year: continue with the failed policies of corrupt career Washington politicians or support common sense solutions that will make America great again.

Mr. Trump has tapped into the frustration that many voters feel across the state and our nation. We’re excited to hear Donald Trump Jr. speak as we work together to prevent Crooked Hillary from winning the White House.

The rally will take place in Downtown Gilbert on Friday, November 4 from 10:45 am – 11:45 am:

Gilbert Water Tower
45 W Page Ave
Gilbert, AZ 85296

RSVP here to reserve your spot!

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By: Don Cogman

schhweikerDan Schweiker is a small businessman having founded and owned China Mist Tea Company for over thirty years.  He is well known in the local business community for his charitable work, integrity and entrepreneurship. Not only has he been involved in numerous local charities, business and artistic organizations, he has served twice on the Paradise Valley City Council prior to moving into Scottsdale.

In my view, Dan is the type of person we need more of in government service.  He brings a business perspective to government combined with a thoughtful interest in public policy that strives to improve the lives of citizens.  I served with him on a Board of Trustees for several years and observed his many contributions of time, wisdom and insights to make our city better.  I urge you to take a close look at his record and join me in giving Dan your support on Election Day.

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By: Doug Ducey

This election, there will be many important issues and initiatives that you will be asked to consider.

But perhaps the most important vote you will cast this November will be on Proposition 205, the initiative to legalize marijuana.

Even The Arizona Republic agrees: Prop 205 is the wrong way to go.

The marijuana advocates have run their campaign on a tactic we’ve all seen before: they’re trying to sell us bad policy under the guise of benefiting our kids.

As a father of three boys, I have to tell you that easier access to marijuana – and greater exposure to drugs in general – will not improve the lives of our children, or anyone else for that matter.

Look what has happened in Colorado:

  • CO now ranks #1 in the nation for youth marijuana use
  • Crime, homelessness, and cartel activity have all spiked
  • Marijuana related-expulsions from school are at a TEN-YEAR HIGH. In fact, over 60 percent of all expulsions are marijuana-related.
  • In one Colorado hospital, over 50% of newborns tested were positive for marijuana

What’s more: many of Colorado’s largest school districts still haven’t seen a penny of the taxes collected on marijuana sales.

We can’t let what happened in Colorado happen here in Arizona. Get the facts at www.NoProp205.com. This election is too important not to spread the word.

Early voting is already underway, and Election Day is Nov. 8th. Together, we can stop Prop 205.

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By: Ken Bennett for Congress

Maricopa, AZ – Arizona businessman and former Secretary of State Ken Bennett proudly announced today the endorsement of Graham County elected officials supporting his campaign to represent Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. County Supervisors Jim Palmer, Drew John, and Danny Smith, Safford Mayor Chris Gibbs, Thatcher Mayor Bob Rivera, Pima Councilman C.B. Fletcher, and Graham Community College District Chair Lois Ann Moody have all thrown their support behind Bennett.

Supervisor Palmer said “I have known Ken Bennett for a long time and there is no one that will represent our district with conservative principles and integrity better than him. Ken’s deep understanding of the issues and proven record in both business and public service is exactly what we need in bringing jobs and prosperity back to the district.”

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